The Shweeb Human-Powered Monorail

Check out this video and explanation courtesy of Neatorama.

The Schweeb is an experimental transit system in New Zealand that combines the bicycle and a monorail track. Users lie down individual pods and work the pedals to move forward:

Our proposal to get you safely and quickly from one point in the city to another would be to elevate you onto a network of interconnected monorails where you never have to stop at traffic lights. The ideal vehicle for such a system already exists. Fully faired recumbent cycles, because of their low aerodynamic resistance, are breaking all bicycle speed records and currently reaching speeds of 90 kph (56 mph) in sprints. Suspending these comfortable and highly efficient machines from monorail tracks has the added advantage of taking away the rolling resistance of pneumatic tyres. Trains of Shweebs can further reduce the aero drag – ten people travelling at 40 kph will each have a lot less work to do than a single rider at the same speed. A single rider requires only a fraction of the energy to achieve the same speed as a normal cyclist – thanks to the significant reductions in both aero drag and tire friction. The vehicle is completely weatherproof, you can’t derail or fall out while on the cellphone or blackberry!

More information at io9!

Building That Grows a Salt Skin

Courtesy of Neatorama.

Faulders Studio has designed a building called GEOtube that, if built in Dubai, would develop its own outer surface from salt! The building plans include a lattice of pipes on the outside, which would grow solid from salt deposits over 15-30 years.

The GEOtube building is covered in a vascular pipe system following a grid of structural lattice and is situated in a salt-water pond, carried to the building from the adjacent Persian Gulf via an underground viaduct. Utilizing floating solar panels for power, the seawater is pumped from basement level to the rooftop and is then gravity-fed through the vascular system.

The lace-like skin forms once the seawater, misted onto its exposed mesh, evaporates and leaves a layer of salt behind. Because the Persian Gulf has the world’s highest salinity for oceanic water, the salt deposits accumulate quickly, making the transparent skin take on a new crystalline appearance.

Once the building is covered, salt could be harvested for other uses. Of course, this project is just a concept for now.

For more information, go to WebUrbanist.

Disc-Shaped Balloon Could Transport Whole Buildings To Remote Areas

Courtesy of POPSCI.

Australian aeronautical firm Skylifter has come up with a better way to transport heavy equipment to remote areas that are beyond the reach of railways, roads and runways – a flying saucer.

This 150 meter-wide disc shaped balloon would be capable of carrying 150 tons, an increase of 700 percent from the maximum 20 tons able to be lifted by existing heavy transport helicopters. Its design provides for more stability – with its flatter profile, it acts less like a sail, making it less susceptible to winds during flights of up to 1240 miles. The disc also behaves as a parachute during descent, ensuring a gentle landing, while the low-hanging control pod keeps it from being too top-heavy.

Skylifter has already built a miniature remote-control version of the disc, named Betty. At three meters across, Betty is capable of carrying slightly more than half a kilo, but her primary function is to show how the design functions. The firm plans to build a full-sized prototype of the balloon over the next three years. If all goes well, before long, Skylifter’s flying saucer could be delivering whole buildings to remote locations, or just acting as a flying hotel.

For more information, check out The Economist.

EngiNERD Alert!

Launch of EngiNERD Alert

Hello dedicated McKinney Engineering Blog readers! We will be adding a new category to your regularly scheduled blog posts. The “EngiNERD Alert” category will cover everything from the weird to the absolutely fabulous and fascinating loosely related to engineering, building, design, and any other projects that strike our fancy. We hope you enjoy these more informal tidbits of information, and please bear with us as we experiment with the design of these posts. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

With love,

Your hip, progressive library staff.

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program (NDSEG) 2010 Application Now Open!

The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program (NDSEG) is a renowned Department of Defense fellowship program available to students in the beginning stages of their graduate studies and applications for the program are now available at

Each spring, government agencies including: the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO), the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCM), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsor 200 students with awards.

These awards include full tuition and mandatory fee coverage, a monthly stipend to off-set additional costs incurred,  and up to $1,000 in health insurance per academic year. The award lasts for 36-months and is portable to any U.S. academic institution.

The fifteen supported program disciplines include:
  • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering,
  • Biosciences,
  • Chemical Engineering,
  • Chemistry,
  • Civil Engineering,
  • Cognitive/Neural/Behavioral Sciences,
  • Computer and Computational Sciences,
  • Electrical Engineering,
  • Geosciences,
  • Materials Science and Engineering,
  • Mathematics,
  • Mechanical Engineering,
  • Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering,
  • Oceanography,
  • Physics.

Students applying must have no more than two years of full-time graduate study completed at the time an application submission and all applications for the 2011 award are due by December 17, 2010.

If any questions should arise, please feel free to direct all correspondence to our program’s e-mail account ( All inquiries will be responded to as soon as possible. If questions require an immediate response, there is an application and program FAQ on online as well that you can find at


The NDSEG Program Team at ASEE
American Society for Engineering Education
1818 N Street NW #600
Washington, DC 20036
Phone:(202) 331-3546